I recently received word that I have been accepted into the New York State Summer Writer’s Conference at Skidmore University in Saratoga Springs. The first thing I did, after accepting of course, was to go online and order the books written by the instructors I will be studying with.
I’m about half way through Netherland, by Joseph O’Neil. The New York Times Book Review called it “the wittiest, angriest, most exacting and most desolate work of fiction we’ve yet had about life in New York and London after the World Trade Center fell.”
The hardest part of reading this book so far has been not falling into it. I am trying to learn from it, but I keep getting swept away.
Right now, in my own writing, I am working on scene transitions. While reading O’Neil’s work I have to keep stopping. How did we get back into the apartment? I muse. I flip back a few pages and find that eloquent sentence that lifted me from the Hudson Valley and dropped me back into the main character’s Manhattan abode.
This, I’ve been told, is reading like a writer. It is both a blessing and curse. While I actually learn a lot from the books I read now, part of me misses the experience of just losing myself in a story.
Maybe when I get a little further along in my evolution as a fiction writer I will be able to occasionally put my analytical mind aside, but for now art is life, life is art. Every novel I pick up is both pleasure reading, and homework. I guess I wouldn’t have it any other way.